By Austin Connell
May 2018 graduate
College of Education
Human Development and Family Studies
One of the main components of my internship with Dr. Ellis this semester was to go to each department within Student Services and assess the impact it is having on students. Is that department helping with retention at the university? Is that department aiding students in their quest for their degree? Is that department making a difference? And most importantly, where are the gaps that we need to fill?
As a student who has worked in Residential Life for 4 years, created and held multiple internships at 2 different universities, and devoted my entire college career to aiding students in any way possible, I thought I had a fair representation of what it meant to be in the Student Affairs profession. Wow, was I wrong. Every department within Student Services is so vastly different, yet connected through a common goal, “to help every member of our learning community succeed”.
One thing that became clear throughout this internship is that we can do all of the assessments we want, but if we never look for gaps then we won’t improve our impact. Assessments can be our best friend, but also our worst enemy. People can look at assessments and see the things they are doing right and then go, “Oh, we are doing so well, we do not need to change.” Wrong. This is what makes assessments our worst enemy. While they highlight what we are doing well, they also reveal what we are not doing so well, and these deficiencies are hidden underneath the positives. We need to stop looking at just the positives and also look at what we are not doing so well– a.k.a. the gaps.
People would be delusional to think that they do not have gaps in their departments or their systems. Those gaps exist and it is our job to find them; that way we can create a department, a service, and a division that better provides for our students. While meeting with our departments, I was able to see where we have gaps and where we can improve.